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Genocide Education Bill in Michigan Signed into Law

Updated: Jul 1, 2021


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, House Bill 4493, Genocide Education: Governor’s Advisory Council & Curriculum and Assessment, was signed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly).

“Our next generation of leaders needs to have the wherewithal to recognize and help prevent widespread harm to their fellow men and women,” Snyder stated. “Teaching the students of Michigan about genocide is important because we should remember and learn about these terrible events in our past while continuing to work toward creating a more tolerant society.”

Thanks to the leadership and efforts of the Armenian Genocide Education Committee (AGEC), Assembly Michigan Director John Jamian, and the entire community, HB 4493 Genocide Education bill is now law. Jamian, an active member of the AGEC, was also a former Representative in the Michigan legislature as well as past Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly. Jamian, upon reflecting on this achievement, recalled his colleague and former Assembly Board Member Edgar Hagopian’s tireless advocacy in championing genocide affirmation both at the state and federal level. Hagopian, who passed away in 2011, served as a Board Member from 1998 to 2003.

“I am elated we finally accomplished making this important genocide educational program into Michigan law,” Jamian said. “This success demonstrates that when our community leaders all work together we can accomplish great things. I give special credit to our AGEC Chairman Edward Haratounian for his leadership and all of the members in getting to this important milestone,” he added.

HB 4493, sponsored by Representative Klint Kesto, amends the Revised School Code and requires that the Michigan’s social studies curriculum in high school and state-wide assessment program include instruction and testing about genocides, including the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. In addition, the bill establishes the Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education as a temporary commission. The 15-member council, set up by Governor Snyder, would be advisory and privately funded.

“The Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust cannot be forgotten,” said State Senator Marty Knollenberg (R-MI), son of former Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues Co-Chair Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R-MI). “I’m proud to stand with both Democrats and Republicans to ensure they are remembered by Michigan’s next generations.”

The official legislation states: “Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, the board of a school district or board of directors of a public school academy shall ensure that the school district’s or public school academy’s social studies curriculum for grades 8 to 12 includes age- and grade-appropriate instruction about genocide.” The state assessment for social studies will “include questions related to the learning objectives in the state board recommended model core academic curriculum standards concerning genocide, including, but not limited to, the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.” According to this bill, a combined total of 6 hours of genocide instruction will be mandatory during grades 8 to 12.

Furthermore, the Michigan school board will promote “engendering and coordinating events, activities, and education that will appropriately memorialize the victims of the Armenian Genocide, such as observance of the Michigan Days of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.”

In addition to the legislation in Michigan, this year the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) included the Armenian Genocide in its planned curriculum as part of its mission to develop materials and lesson plans for genocide education in elementary, middle, and high schools. The Assembly reached out to ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt in appreciation of the background material regarding the Armenian Genocide and the resources provided in the ADL’s Spring 2016 high school lesson plan entitled “The Struggle to Prevent Genocide: Genocide and the Global Response.”

For other curricula, see the Armenian National Institute’s page, “Armenian Genocide and Human Rights Curricula.” Michigan follows six other U.S. states that have approved genocide curriculum mandates, including Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.

Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.

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